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16 Nov 2009

2012 Olympic Qualification System

For all the Olympic Classes, one of the big issues on the table at this year’s ISAF Annual Conference, which brings together the sport’s decision makers from around the world, was the allocation of places (entries) to each event at the 2012 Olympic Games.

With the overall athlete quota for the Olympic Sailing Competition reduced to 380 for 2012 from 400 in 2008, despite the reduction of one Olympic Medal the allocation of places is still a challenging issue.

With the reduction of 11 to 10 sailing events for 2012, Chris Atkins (GBR) Chairman of the ISAF Events Committee explained there was now a requirement to redistribute some of the extra competitors (in 2008 there were 400 competitors spread across 11 events compared to 380 across 10 now). “We used the extras to do two things: firstly to increase the proportion of women competitors; and secondly to increase the number of nations competing.

“Summarizing overall, women as a percentage in 2008 were at 34.8%, this increases it to 37.6%. This is still well ahead of the 26.6% of the entries at the Sailing World Cup. So we’re keeping the Olympic Sailing Competition ahead of what is happening in the reality in the sailing world.”

The objectives of the IOC and ISAF within the Olympic Qualification System are broad – spread of nations, places for the world’s best sailors, support women’s participation, aspirational yet achievable for emerging nations to name a few.

The original proposal put to the Events Committee decreased the entries in the two-person dinghy events (470 men and 470 women) compared to 2008 and at a more significant percentage than any of the other eight events on the Olympic Programme. The 470 men was proposed to decrease from 30 to 25 entries, with the 470 women decreasing from 19 down to 18. However, with evidence based information presented to the Events Committee, a clearer picture of participation levels across the ten Olympic Events was able to be considered. The evidence highlighted that the entry proposal would prohibit many of the world’s top 470 sailors from competing as very simply there were not sufficient entry places allocated as well as demonstrating that there was a disproportionate decrease in the percentage of nations being allocated entries in the two-person dinghy events (compared to those nations on the world rankings) with the outcome being that these would be the two events with the least percentage of nations able to compete; a situation clearly did not equitable alongside the other eight Olympic events.

The International 470 Class was delighted that the Events Committee reviewed the proposal and agreed to increase the number of entry places to both the two-person dinghy events, the 470 Men and the 470 Women. This proposal was then subsequently approved by the ISAF Council, ISAF’s final decision making body.

Speaking on the outcome of the ISAF Council decision, President of the International 470 Class, Stanislav Kassarov commented, “The increase in entry places for the 470 Men and 470 Women was certainly required. We recognize the need for quotas in the Olympic Sailing Competition, within the constraints of 380 athletes, but to have a situation where the world’s top 470 sailors are unable to compete should not be seen at the Olympic Sailing Competition. The International 470 Class is very pleased with the outcome and we look forward to the world’s best competing at the 2012 Olympic Games.”

The approved entry quotas for the 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition are:

Event Equipment Entry Quota  Athlete Quota 
 Men’s One Person Dinghy  Laser 48 48
 Men’s One Person Dinghy Heavy  Finn 25 25 
 Men’s Two Person Dinghy  470 27  54 
 Men’s Two Person Dinghy High Performance  49er 20 40 
 Men’s Windsurfer  RS:X 38 38
 Men’s Keelboat  Star 16 32
 Women’s One Person Dinghy  Laser Radial 39 39
 Women’s Two Person Dinghy  470 20 40
 Women’s Keelboat Match Racing  Elliott 6m 12 36
 Women’s Windsurfer  RS:X 28 28

One place in each event will be granted to the host country, 75% of nation places in each event will be decided at the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships, with the remaining 25% at the respective 2012 Class World Championships. The Events committee proposal was approved by the ISAF Council and is now subject to final approval by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). It is anticipated that the final 2012 Olympic Qualification System will be published in April 2010.

Full reports on the 2009 ISAF November Conference can be found at: www.sailing.org/meetings